Waiting on Tenterhooks:「剉哩等」 chhoah leh tán


I found this Taiwanese phrase in the CNA article ‘The Legislative Challenge: Can Taiwan Keep Up with the TPP‘ from March:



Observing the TPP chapters dedicated to intellectual property rights, strengthening protection for the rights of original drug producers  will undoubtedly increase protection for domestic drug producers who engage in research and development, but domestic generic drug producers will be waiting on tenterhooks.

Unusually for a Taiwanese phrase used in a Mandarin sentence, there was no explanation in brackets afterwards, which suggests it’s pretty commonly used and understood. The first two characters used are just rendered phonetically with similar Mandarin characters:

Mandarin pronounciation: Cuo4li5deng3      Taiwanese pronounciation: chhoah leh tán

One Chinese-language blog I found suggested that the original Taiwanese character for 「剉」 is 「瘛」(chi4), a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) term for “clonic convulsion”, but here it means to shake or shiver (with nerves). The leh is sometimes represented by 哩 or 咧 in written form, but the original Taiwanese character is unknown. It is used in a similar way to 「著」 in the phrase 「坐著看」,i.e. Verb A 著 Verb B (to do Verb A continuously while doing Verb B). 「等」is the original Taiwanese character.

Photo by AFGE [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

2 thoughts on “Waiting on Tenterhooks:「剉哩等」 chhoah leh tán

  1. “The advantages of working in your own language are obvious. Those working in a foreign one are subtle ” The Economist, April 9, 2016. Having said this, I am surprised and impressed. There is no doubt in my mind that Roman letters are in many aspects “better” than Han-ji ( Kanji in Japanese)…….
    2,台語用詞很多是古漢語,它源於閩南語,後者又有百越語參入,但是不多。所以語詞來自漢語/漢字 的必須注意漢字的三要素a形b音c義。所以我推薦你去看:廖文豪著《漢字樹》(共四册,暢銷書),著者很有想象力。我揣測80-90%可信,好書!
    4,台語chhuah 也用在動詞,英語Shake ,也是害怕的意思:手會chhuah ,可能是百越土話或是另外有漢字。


    • 謝謝您留言指教。我一定會參考您推薦的書籍!我覺得台語最有趣的地方是它本字不是很清楚,這賦予它一種特別的魅力。我用“瘛”來解釋“剉”這個字只是參考別外一位台灣人的意見(見https://taiwanlanguage.wordpress.com/2011/04/07/%E5%89%89%E5%92%A7%E7%AD%89%EF%BC%88ts%E2%80%98ua%CA%94-le%CA%94-tan%CB%8B%EF%BC%89%E2%94%80%E2%94%80%E9%A1%AB%E6%8A%96%E7%9D%80%E7%AD%89%E5%BE%85/ )並非鄙人研究成果。兩位台灣研究員應該交換一下研究成就!歡迎您常常跟我分享您的學問!


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